Wenger claims Arsenal defeats were 'accidents'

Arsene Wenger insists Arsenal's two defeats in the Barclays Premier League have been "accidents".

The Gunners return to action following the international break with the visit of Birmingham on tomorrow, before then heading to Holland for a Champions League clash against AZ Alkmaar.

Arsenal have responded well since successive losses to both Manchester clubs, putting together a run of six consecutive victories in all competitions and they are currently the leading scorers in the top flight.

The Gunners are now up into fifth place, but could move to within three points of leaders Chelsea should they win their game in hand, at home to Bolton, which has yet to be re-arranged.

Wenger feels his young side have shown great character to produce such a response following what were difficult results to swallow either side of the last international break.

"I think this year, more than ever, those two defeats were an accident," the Arsenal manager said.

"There is a realisation that we have the quality - it is not as if we came out of those games thinking we were not good enough, and in fact they reinforced our belief and desire.

"We responded very well. I know we have the quality, so those are strong basic ingredients to do well."

Arsenal netted six against Blackburn to maintain a 100% record at Ashburton Grove.

Wenger is in no doubt of the importance of continued strong performances in front of the 60,000-strong Gunners faithful, with north London rivals Tottenham due to visit at the end of the month.

"We know that our season will be decided at home," declared the Arsenal manager.

"We have the ability to win anywhere, but how well we deal with opponents like Blackburn will decide things.

"We need to keep our focus high and approach each game with the same desire."

Wenger has yet to fully assess his jet-setting squad as they return from the international break.

Gael Clichy and Abou Diaby both collected ankle injuries while away with France, and Croatia striker Eduardo (thigh) is sidelined.

Captain Cesc Fabregas is set to feature despite missing Spain's midweek game for personal reasons.

Goalkeeper Manuel Almunia, who was not away, is rated as 50/50 to make a comeback from more than a month out with a chest infection, while Poland international Lukasz Fabianski should be included for the first time this season following knee surgery, which is set to mean disappointment for Vito Mannone, who had performed admirably in recent weeks.

Winger Samir Nasri is also close to a return from his broken leg, and could be involved for the Carling Cup tie against Liverpool on October 28.

Off the field, American billionaire Stan Kroenke yesterday increased his share in Arsenal's parent holding company to 28.9%.

The businessman, who joined the Arsenal board in September last year, has purchased 90 additional shares at £8,500 each to add a further 0.2% to his existing stake.

A club statement read: "Stan Kroenke has a beneficial interest in, and controls voting rights over, 17,957 ordinary shares in the company - representing 28.9% of the company's issued ordinary shares."

The Denver Nuggets basketball team owner is the Gunners' largest shareholder, with Uzbek businessman Alisher Usmanov also holding a share of more than 25%.

Should Kroenke, or any other party, reach a 29.9% threshold they would, under City rules, trigger a formal takeover bid.

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